‘Tainted’ audiobook now available

This story by Jonan Pilet first appeared on Food Safety News and is reposted here with permission.

“Tainted” by Phyllis Entis is available in book, digital and audiobook formats.

Phyllis Entis’s new book “Tainted” is now available as an audiobook. The book is narrated by Entis herself. 

The book is particularly topical as the first chapter talks about Cronobacter sakazakii, a dangerous bacterium that has caused an ongoing outbreak. The Cronobacter outbreak has sickened at least five infants, killing two, and has been linked to Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare infant formulas recalled Abbott Nutrition. 

“Tainted” tells readers that when it comes to food safety, conventional wisdom isn’t always enough. As Entis puts it, “the food preparation skills we learned from our parents and grandparents are no longer good enough to keep us safe.”

The audiobook can be found here.

I had the chance to read the book this past December and talk with Entis about it. Whether it’s Salmonella in eggs, Listeria in deli meats, melamine in milk or Cyclospora in lettuce, “Tainted” illustrates that everyone has a responsibility to ensure that the food we eat is as safe as we can make it. Entis shows that everyone — government regulators, farmers, ranchers, food processors, food service workers, retailers, educators and consumers — are needed to accomplish this herculean task.

Phyllis Entis is a retired food safety microbiologist. “Tainted” is the update of her 2007 book, “Food Safety: Old Habits, New Perspectives.” The original version had an academic bent, but “Tainted” is more in line with Entis’s original vision of making food safety accessible to the lay reader.

In recent years, Entis has honed her storytelling abilities as she has been working as a mystery writer. She is known for the Damien Dickens Mysteries series, which includes “The Green Pearl Caper,” “The White Russian Caper,” “The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper,” “The Gold Dragon Caper,” “The Blue Moon Caper,” and “The Silver Star Caper.” Her debut novel, “The Green Pearl Caper,” was a Library Journal SELF-e Selection.

Writing mystery novels prepared her well to write “Tainted,” as food safety illnesses often function as mysteries. “Tainted” often reads like a true crime novel, where laymen and authorities uncover clues to save the public from future poisonings and reveal the culprits of past poisonings.

After reading “Tainted,” I asked Entis if she has a particular story from the novel that she finds most memorable. She pointed to the Regent Chocolate episode.

In January 1974, a Salmonella Eastbourne outbreak was linked to Regent Chocolate. Entis’s lab with Canada’s Health Protection Branch was responsible for checking all of the suspect chocolate stored in warehouses in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. “I am a chocoholic and it was torture to be surrounded by all those giant Easter bunnies and chocolate Christmas tree ornaments and not be able to nibble,” she said.

Entis was able to watch Regent’s response firsthand and see how effective the company’s approach and changes were. She explains in the book how Regent could serve as a model for how companies can learn from their mistakes.

Though “Tainted” is a great book for those interested in learning more about food safety, it’s also a book for those who simply want to be entertained by the drama behind the scenes of food safety.

If you read “Tainted” and have been spurred to read more about food safety, Entis recommends Nicols Fox’s 1997 book, “Spoiled, The Dangerous Truth About a Food Chain Gone Haywire,” Jeff Benedict’s “Poisoned,” and Deborah Blum’s “The Poison Squad.”

“Tainted” was released Dec. 2, 2020, and can be ordered on Amazon. Entis’s book reached  No. 1 overall in the Microbiology category on Amazon during the first week of its release.

TAINTED. From Farm Gate to Dinner Plate, Fifty Years of Food Safety Failures is available in ebook and audiobook formats from all major on-line retailers. The paperback and hardcover editions can be ordered from Amazon or through your local bookstore.


15-State E. coli Outbreak Triggers Recall – Update

Rich Products Corporation (Buffalo, NY) has recalled more than 196,000 pounds of frozen chicken quesadilla and various other heat-treated, not fully cooked frozen mini meals and snack items in the wake of an outbreak of 24 confirmed cases of E. coli O121 illnesses in 15 US states.

Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Michigan (2), Mississippi (1), New York (3), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (1), South Dakota (1), Texas (3), Utah (1), Virginia (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (2) reported illnesses to CDC. More than three-fourths (78%) of the victims are under 21 years of age; seven people were hospitalized.

Eight of the outbreak victims – residents of Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia – reported consuming Farm Rich brand products. The New York Department of Health found the outbreak strain of E. coli O121 in a sample of Farm Rich frozen chicken mini quesadilla product obtained from a victim in that state. USDA is working with state and federal public health agencies – including FDA and CDC – on this outbreak investigation. CDC has not yet released a complete list of the 15 states.

E. coli O121 is one of six non-O157 Shiga toxin producing E. coli serogroups that is recognized by the USDA as an adulterant in certain raw beef products.

The manufacturer has recalled the following products in cooperation with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (items 1-4) and FDA (items 5-7):

  1. Farm Rich mini pizza slices with cheese pepperoni and sauce in pizza dough (7.2-oz cartons; UPC 041322376909; Best by date May 15 or May 16, 2014)
  2. Farm Rich mini pizza slices with cheese pepperoni and sauce in pizza dough (22-oz cartons; UPC 041322356437 Best by date May 15 or May 16, 2014)
  3. Farm Rich mini quesadillas with cheese, grilled white meat chicken in a crispy crust (18-oz bags; UPC 041322356352; Best by date of May 14, 2014)
  4. Farm Rich philly cheese steaks with cheese, beef & onions in a crispy crust (21-oz bags; UPC 041322356345; Best by date May 13, 2014)
  5. Farm Rich mozzarella bites in a pizzeria style crust (22-oz cartons; UPC 041322374431; Best by date of May 19, 2014)
  6. Farm Rich mozzarella bites in a pizzeria style crust (7-oz cartons; UPC 041322376916; Best by date of May 19, 2014)
  7. Market Day Mozzarella Bites (22-oz bags; UPC 041322804358; Best by date of May 12, 2014)

The recalled products were manufactured between November 12, 2012 and November 19, 2012 and supplied several major retail chains for distribution nationwide, including: Food City, Giant Eagle, Hannaford, Kroger, ShopRite, Spartan Stores and it’s affiliated chains, Tops, Walmart (nationwide), Wegmans, Winn-Dixie (South Florida stores), and various independent grocery stores. Other retailers also may have carried the recalled products. Consumers who may have purchased any of the recalled products should check their freezers and discard these items, or return them to the retailer.

According to USDA, infection with E. coli O121 can result in dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2-8 days (3-4 days, on average) after exposure to the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called HUS, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5-years old and older adults. Symptoms of HUS may include fever, abdominal pain, pale skin tone, fatigue, small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth, decreased urination, and swelling. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

Recalls and Alerts: March 30, 2013

Here is today’s list of food safety recalls, product withdrawals, allergy alerts and miscellaneous compliance issues. The live links will take you directly to the official recall notices and company news releases that contain detailed information for each recall and alert.

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United States

  • Allergy Alert: Lifestyle Evolution Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA) recalls NuGO FREE, NuGO Dark and NuGO Slim Non Dairy bars made before October 2012 because of the potential for undeclared milk.
  • Allergy Alert: Heartland Gourmet, LLC (Lincoln, NE) recalls Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (Item #2017), Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cookie Mix (Item #1530) and Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix (Item #2024) due to undeclared milk.
  • Allergy Alert: Lisy Corporation (Miami, FL) recalls five Lisy brand seasoning blends, due to undeclared soy.
  • Food Safety Recall: Rich Products Corporation recalls Farm Rich® Mini Quesadillas, Farm Rich® Mini Pizza Slices, Farm Rich® Philly Cheese Steaks, Farm Rich® Mozzarella Bites, and Market Day® Mozzarella Bites due to possible contamination with E. coli O121.
  • Pet Food Safety Recall: Natura Pet Products expands its earlier dry pet food recall to include additional California Natural, EVO, Health Wise and Innova dry dog food and dry cat food products due to potential Salmonella contamination.



  • Food Safety Recall (UK): KP Snacks Ltd. recalls 4 variants of McCoy’s multipack crisps due to possible contamination with small pieces of plastic.

Some supermarket chains post recall notices on their web sites for the convenience of customers. To see whether a recalled food was carried by your favorite supermarket, follow the live link to the supermarket’s recall website.

*The Kroger umbrella encompasses numerous supermarket, marketplace and convenience store chains, listed on the Kroger corporate home page.
**Includes Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs and Pak N’ Save.